Effective Date: 7-2-2021
The Alternative Care Children’s Service Worker will be assigned immediately, according to local procedures.
Within 24 hours of the child being taken into protective custody, Children’s Service Worker will meet with the parents. The Children’s Service Worker should also determine, at opening of the case, if either biological/legal parent is incarcerated in a Missouri Department of Corrections facility, a local correctional facility, an out-of-state correctional facility or a federal prison. The Children’s Service Worker should also obtain information regarding the length of the sentence and possible amount of time required to serve the sentence. The worker should visit the parent (or attempt phone contact with an incarcerated parent) to ensure a smooth transition between workers. All parents should be given the opportunity to be involved in the assessment process, using the Initial Family Assessment and, if necessary, the Initial Family Assessment Attachment, to begin building the Social Service Plan. It is important to assess each parent to obtain a thorough understanding of the family functioning. During this meeting the worker shall provide and explain to the parents the Handbook for Parents of Children in Alternative Care, CS-304, which is written to assist staff in providing this information to parents. Additionally, the CS-132 (Know Your Rights Brochure) shall be provided at this time. Parents who are incarcerated should have each of these items mailed to them at the facility, along with the Notice to Incarcerated Parent, CS-2. The Children’s Service Worker should also attach the Parent Response Form, CS-2 ATT, and include a self-addressed stamped envelope. All documents provided to parents will be documented on the Verification of Receipt of Documents & Information form by asking the parent to initial and date.
The purpose of this meeting is to provide the parents/caretakers with as much information as possible about what will be happening with their child and to engage them in the decision-making process. Continuous parental involvement, including all parents, throughout the child’s placement is significant in early and successful reunification. It is important to remember the majority of families do not voluntarily seek assistance from the Division. The family may view the Children’s Service Worker as an unwelcome intrusion into their life. The family’s perception may manifest itself in a wide range of behaviors, i.e., defensiveness, hostility, resistance, and ambivalence. It is imperative the worker examine the underlying cause of the behavior and understand the family’s reactions may be normal in view of the circumstances. The worker should try to put themselves in the family’s position and think about how they might react in similar circumstances.
The following items provide some guidance on topics to discuss with parents:
- The Children’s Service Worker explains his/her role as helper to the family. The worker will assist the family to identify and resolve those issues which lead to the out-of-home placement of their child
- Using the Initial Family Assessment, and if necessary, the Initial Family Assessment Attachment, to begin development of the Social Service Plan with the family. The worker will identify the allegations that brought the child(ren) into care, the allegations adjudicated that prevent the child(ren) from safely returning home and the behavioral changes necessary to ensure safety of the child(ren). Each parent and each child shall be individually assessed, their needs and services identified and progress toward behavior changes documented thoroughly throughout the case. These components shall be documented on the Social Service Plan. The Social Service Plan will help lead the family and team through all the components of a forward-focused plan and help bring clarity for the team around the harm, danger and next steps that are determined with the family to help support a successful outcome. Utilizing the Social Service Plan as a foundation of conversations throughout the case is important to maintain focus on behavioral changes observed in the family to keep the children safe and reduce potential risk of harm.
- Engage the parent to allow them to express their view of the situation
- Ask how the family has managed up to the time of intervention including what worked and what did not work
- The parent and family’s perception of their cultural identity
- Explore with the parent the whereabouts of the other parents and relatives that may be able to assist the family and become part of the safety network
- How trauma may influence the parent and family
When engaging with parents the focus should be on what must change before the child can safely return home. Ask what in-home safety interventions may be put in place to assure that the child is safe. Initial discussions about safety networkers should be held.
The Children’s Service Worker should obtain the name of the incarcerated individual and the address of the facility. This information is available for public use through the Missouri Department of Corrections (DOC) website, at http://www.doc.mo.gov, under the “Offender Web Search” link. The Offender Web Search application allows users to search by either the offender’s DOC ID or the offender’s first and last name. The information provided includes a general description such as height, weight, race, and sex, as well as Assigned Location, Active and Completed Offenses, and Aliases. If the offender has been released from prison on probation or parole, the assigned Probation/Parole Officer will be listed. All Missouri adult correctional facilities and Probation & Parole offices can be found on the DOC website above under the “Facility Locator” link.
This introductory contact between the Children’s Service Worker and family is the foundation for establishing a team with common purpose and goals. As with any other team member, the parent must feel that they are a part of the solution rather than simply complying with the mandates of others.
The family Children’s Service Worker also explains that the family (all parents/child(ren)) will be members of a Family Support Team (FST). He/she explains that the purpose of the team is to assist the family to determine their strengths and needs and what type of plan is necessary for the child to return home. He/she explains team membership and individual roles and responsibilities with the team.